Piccard lands in Spain after crossing Atlantic in Solar Impulse 2
“It’s absolutely extraordinary what you’re doing -- flying a solar-powered plane around the world, and I know how long you’ve been working for this,” Branson told Piccard, speaking from the land on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, added that he admired his pioneering spirit on the flight to raise awareness for clean technologies. The two have been friends and allies in the crusade for clean tech for decades since both were racing in the late 1990s to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon. “It sounds like you’re just a few hours away from the landing in Spain. I’m slightly jealous that I’m not there with you in the cockpit even though there isn’t enough room for two.”
Piccard, who has only taken several brief 20-minute naps since taking off more than three days ago, has been following the footsteps of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, who 89 years ago became the first man to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic. Lindbergh, who flew from New York to Paris in about 33 hours, needed 450 gallons of fuel while Piccard is flying without fuel or emissions.
Piccard and Swiss compatriot André Borschberg, who flew one record-breaking 117-hour leg across the Pacific Ocean, are taking turns flying the airplane on its historic journey around the world. It started in Abu Dhabi and is expected to return to Abu Dhabi sometime in late July.
“You are a friend and explorer and a patron of the clean tech initiative, and the wish to have a cleaner world,” Piccard told Branson, a billionaire, philanthropist and explorer. “The future can be fantastic if we have enough pioneering spirit.” Branson was in a hot air balloon in late 1998 that made a record-breaking flight from Morocco to Hawaii but he was unable to complete a global flight before Piccard and Brian Jones accomplished the feat in March 1999.